Date of Award

5-2010

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Major

Psychology

Major Professor

Paula J. Fite

Committee Members

Derek R. Hopko, Jenny A. Macfie

Abstract

Previous literature has shown that risk factors for delinquency include individual characteristics of impulsivity and risk-taking as well as contextual influences such as neighborhoods, parenting and engagement in physical activity (e.g., exercise, sports). Theory suggests that individual characteristics interact with contextual factors to influence child development, however evidence is limited. The current study examined the interaction between these individual and contextual risks to influence childhood delinquency in a community sample of 89 children ranging from 9 to 12 years of age (M = 10.4, SD = 1.1). Questionnaire measures showed that both caregiver report of impulsivity and self-reported risk-taking were positively associated with self-reported delinquency, yet no interactions with contextual factors were found. When using computer tasks, neither impulsivity nor risk-taking were significantly associated with delinquency. However, a risk-taking by physical activity interaction was found, such that at low levels of physical activity risk-taking was positively related to delinquency, yet at high levels of physical activity, risk-taking and delinquency were unrelated. Thus, programs that involve physical activity may be useful prevention and intervention strategies for risk-taking children.

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